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Tim Challies

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March 30, 2004

I’d like to get some thoughts on the following quote, pulled ruthlessly and free from all context from John Eldredge’s book Wild at Heart.

Too many Christians today are living back in the old covenant. They’ve had Jeremiah 17:9 drilled into them and they walk around believing my heart is deceitfully wicked. Not anymore it’s not. Read the rest of the book. In Jeremiah 31:33, God announces the cure for all that: “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” I will give you a new heart. That’s why Paul says in Romans 2:29, “No, a man is a Jew is he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit.” Sin is not the deepest thing about you. You have a new heart. Did you hear me? Your heart is good.

March 26, 2004

Congratulations to my little sister Susanna and her new fiance, Rick, as they got engaged just a few hours ago. Rumor has it they may be looking to get married as soon as this fall! Susanna is the middle one of my three sisters and, appropriately, the second to get engaged. Note to Susanna and Rick: I know I don’t really get a vote, but if you want my input, I’d recommend getting married in the Toronto area rather than making me drive all the way down to Atlanta.

In other, less exciting news, I found Wild at Heart on sale at my local Christian bookstore and decided to pick it up. I have had loads of people ask me if I have read it and after this weekend I hope to be able to finally answer “yes.” The back cover makes it sound almost identical to Six Battles Every Man Must Win so I will be interested to see the differences. I was certainly not impressed with the only other of Eldredge’s books I have read (The Sacred Romance) and hope this one is more theologically sound. I can’t deny I am a tad suspicious of it, but will try to be as open-minded as I can.

March 25, 2004

Someone recently asked me which articles on this site are the ones that get read the most. I consulted my site statistics and found out that some helpful soul at Verio’s technical support center had decided to erase all statistics from 2002 to February 2004 so I have to rely on memory and post-February statistics. Based on that, these are the most popular articles:

  1. The Passion of the Christ According to Emmerich. I believe it has been read 7000 times or something like that. Ironically, the most widely read article on this site is one I only partially wrote since a fellow-believer did the bulk of the research and writing for it. I should probably be insulted by that!
  2. Review of the Passion of the Christ. No surprise since there are 152 comments (and counting), though I think the bulk of the comments are courtesy of the same few people!
  3. Review of the Passion of the Christ (Part One). It is just a play-by-play of the movie based on notes I took (very sloppily) during the movie. I found it distinctly difficult to write in the dark. It was even more difficult to read it later.
  4. Book Review of The Purpose Driven Life since people love to hate Rick Warren.

So there you have it. It seems quite obvious that search engines are leading many of the visitors to this site as they search for whatever trend is hitting Christianity at that moment…

March 23, 2004

Bob DeWaay has published an excellent examination of The Purpose Driven Life in his Critical Issues Commentary. The article examines The Purpose Driven Life and often compares it to John MacArthur’s “Hard to Believe – The High Cost and Infinite Value of Following Jesus.” Here are a few excerpts:

A few months ago a friend phoned to ask if I had ever heard of Rick Warren. “Yes” I replied. “Why are you asking”? He said, “I just got kicked out of a Bible Study for bringing my Bible to it.” That is how the idea for this article came to me. The Bible study my friend attended was really a Purpose Driven Life study group. The Purpose Driven Life book they were studying referenced Bible passages that sounded off base. He was told that if he was going to attend the study, he would have to leave his Bible at home, because the issues he brought up were disruptive to the group. He chose to quit instead.

Warren would have us believe that something is furry, meow’s, has four legs, and likes to chase mice, but is not a cat. He tells us that his book is not about “you” and then spends over three hundred pages making it about you, over and over. This doesn’t just look like self-help, read like self-help, sound like self-help and feel like self-help, it is self-help and it is about you. That doesn’t help me. I need the gospel to solve my sin problem. I don’t need Warren aphorisms—and certainly not thousands of them.

Warren’s terminology to describe God provides a picture of God as a kindly grandfather who gushes with warm, fuzzy feelings. For example, he has a chapter that tells us what makes God smile. He uses Noah as an example. He writes, “But there was one man who made God smile. The Bible says, ‘Noah was a pleasure to the Lord’” (Warren: 69). This is a citation of Genesis 6:8 from the Living Bible. Again the paraphrase turns a verse that is God-centered into one that is man-centered. The NASB says, “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” The Bible tells what Noah received from God. The poor translation Warren uses makes Noah the agent and God the recipient. The NKJV is more pointed: “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8; NKJV). In the Biblical account God gives grace to Noah, in Warren’s account Noah gives pleasure to God. Here is how Warren interprets Genesis 6:8: “God said, ‘This guy brings me pleasure. He makes me smile. I’ll start over with his family’” (Warren 69). He twists Genesis 6:8 to promote his man-centered theology and obscure the fact that it was God’s grace that made Noah who he was.

You can read the entire article here.

March 23, 2004

Pastor Dies Watching ‘Passion of Christ’
Mar 23, 2004

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (Reuters) - A Brazilian pastor died of an apparent heart attack while watching the Mel Gibson film “The Passion of the Christ,” witnesses say.

Jose Geraldo Soares, a 43-year-old Presbyterian pastor, had reserved two movie theaters at a Belo Horizonte shopping mall on Sunday afternoon to see the film with his family and the congregations of two local churches.

But halfway through the movie, Soares’ wife noticed that he was no longer awake. A doctor who was also watching the film tended to Soares, but the priest was already dead.

“He was calmly watching the movie next to his wife,” said Amauri Costa, a family friend who also attended Soares’ funeral on Monday.

Soares is at least the second person to die while watching “The Passion,” which opened in Brazil on Friday. Peggy Scott, 56, died of a heart attack on Feb. 25 in Wichita, Kansas while watching film’s climactic crucifixion scene.

The film, which was praised by Catholic leaders in Brazil as a faithful depiction of events in the Bible, has been criticized by many for its violent and bloody portrayal of Christ’s final hours.

I wonder. Many, many millions have seen this movie now. It seems that if 2 people die out of the 10 or 20 million who have seen it, that probably isn’t worth putting in the news. I find it hard to believe that mortality rate is any different from any other movie. After all, people have to die somewhere…

March 20, 2004

Lately a lot of spammers have decided to start peddling their wares by using the comments section of this site. I apologize if you have seen some pretty nasty comments attached to the various articles. I have tried to remove them as quickly as I am able but a few may have escaped my notice. I have recently installed some software I hope will drive some of these people away. Let’s hope it works!

March 19, 2004

Today I received an advance copy of Bill Perkins’ new book Six Battles Every Man Must Win. That put finishing touch on what I am hoping will be a very relaxing weekend. The plan is to spend plenty of time on the couch. I’ll be watching a bit of golf, watching a bit of March Madness (every March I try and ultimately fail to learn to like basketball), sipping Coke and reading my new book. If they happen to televise a bit of Bluejays spring training action it will make this weekend as perfect as a weekend without football can be.

And never fear, I’ll be sure to get off the couch to spend some time with the family!

I have a couple of book reviews to write and publish and will, of course, be continuing my study of Proverbs.

Note to Bill Perkins - I’m a Web designer. Let’s talk about your site! ;)

March 18, 2004

Since The Passion of the Christ was released I have been waiting to hear from Rick Warren to learn about Saddleback’s involvement with this movie. On Tuesday Christianity Today published an article where he describes just that. You can read the article here.

There are a lot of things I would love to say about this article, but to do so would not be constructive. I wish to point out only two things that grabbed my attention.

First, Warren bases this article on his thesis for The Purpose Driven Church. He says that Christian leaders are called to ride spiritual waves, gives no basis for how to discern a wave generated by God from one generated by Satan, and then says we are never to criticize a wave. His only proof for the validity of the wave he helped his church catch is the numbers - the results - of jumping on it. There is no mention of how he knew this was God’s will for his church. Though I do agree entirely that we need to ride the waves generated by God, it is critical that we use discernment to ensure we do not jump on waves that are not generated by God. It is dangerous to assume that everything is God’s will. Though much of what Warren say may be good, it is what he does not say that concerns me here.

Second, I was shocked to read that the church sponsored a VIP premiere showing, to which they invited only the elite guests – those with prestigious jobs and those with loads of money. What a terrible testimony to the world this is! What happened to the equality of the rich and the poor, those with status and those without?

Kay and I personally invited over a thousand lost community leaders of Orange County to a VIP premiere showing, including every mayor, congressman, superintendent of schools, other community leaders, and four billionaires, most of whom I’d never met.

This really strikes me as distinctly anti-Scriptural. To segregate the elite from the rest goes directly against Jesus’ teaching. This sort of elitism really offends me!

Saddleback Church is on the far corner of the continent from where I live and what they do would matter very little to me, except that Warren is the most influential pastor in the world at this time and thousands of other churches imitate his every move. I am certain we will see many other churches following his lead and sponsoring VIP nights for their local elite. Thousands of others are already riding various waves, including this movie, without considering their origins.

Regardless, I rejoice that so many people have made commitments to God through their programs. I sincerely hope those people follow through with their commitments and become dedicating, reproducing followers of Christ.

Incidentally, though I am not a great fan of Brian McLaren, his article from the previous week raises some interesting points and is worth reading.

March 05, 2004

A couple of topics here are forming the basis for a whole lot of discussion. They have both fallen off the main page so I thought I would point them out. The Review of The Purpose Driven Life is probably the most-read page on this site. People have been taking stabs at a discussion there since early January.

The second one generating discussion is the Review of The Passion of the Christ which is heading towards 100 comments and I’m sure will soon take over as the most read page. There has been some fascinating discussion with people from all denominations having respectful interaction about various aspects of the movie.

March 04, 2004

CNN published an interesting report today which found that there are not as many bloggers on the Net as many people seem to think. It seems that between 2 and 7 percent of adults in the United States (Canada is probably little different) have their own Weblog and only about ten percent of these update on a daily basis. The vast majority update once a week or less. I would guess the even more vast majority post once and never post again!

You can read the complete article here.